April 9, 2017: Matins for Holy Monday
St Maximus the Confessor talks about three incarnations of the God the Son.
The first, and most important, is the incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary. It is this event that we usually what we mean when we talk about the incarnation.
The second incarnation is in the text of the Scriptures. If we aren’t careful, our polemics again Evangelical Christians can lead us to overlook that, in a real sense, the Bible is the Word of God. Not in the sense of a verbal inspiration. Rather, as Maximus says, of Scriptures are the Word of God because they are incarnation of God the Word.
It is the third incarnation thought that concerns us tonight.
The Son is incarnate in creation. Even though marred by sin the created order is for Maximus a mysterion, a revelation of the Son. If it weren’t, if creation was somehow foreign to God, then the incarnation would be an act of violence, not love.
In the hymn for matins we sing:
Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching…
We shouldn’t limit the coming of the Bridegroom just to the Last Judgment or the end of our own lives. Yes, He will come then but because creation is a sacrament of His Presence, He also comes to us in each moment of our lives. Realizing this changes the affective or emotional tone of Bridegroom Matins.
The Bridegroom Christ is always coming to us, in each moment of our lives, in and through the creation. In the very act of creation, God calls us “out of non-existence into being,” as we say in the Anaphora. In each moment, He embraces us in love and the culmination of that loving embrace is when He comes finally and in glory as the loving Judge of the living and the dead.
Maximus also changes for us, or better, instructs us, what it means to be found “watching.” If in each moment the Son comes to us in love then, in each moment of our lives, we are able to embrace Him Who first embraces us.
To watch for the coming of the Bridegroom is nothing more or less than to receive the Son as He comes to us moment by moment, in the persons, events and things that make up our everyday life.
In each moment, Christ comes to you as certainly as He does in the Eucharist. And so, in each moment of your life, you can receive Him as you do under the form of Bread and Wine.
My brothers and sisters, “Behold, the Bridegroom comes”! Not simply at the end of time, or the end of our life, but here and now, in this moment and in every moment of our lives. We have no need to fear the Judgment which is to come if, in this moment and every moment of our lives, we receive Him Who comes to us in love.